Turkey vaccinates 1 million residents with Chinese vaccines
Published: Jan 22, 2021 01:36 AM

Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay receives China's CoronaVac in Ankara City Hospital, Ankara, Turkey, on January 16. Photo: VCG

Turkey announced on Wednesday that the country has so far vaccinated 1.04 million citizens during the first week of its nationwide mass inoculation program against COVID-19.

The vaccination process started across Turkey on January 14 with the COVID-19 vaccine CoronaVac developed by Chinese company Sinovac Life Sciences Co, the Xinhua News Agency reported Thursday. 

One million healthcare workers were among the first group to get vaccinated, followed by citizens living and working in nursing homes, disabled care centers, and care homes, according to Xinhua. 

Turkey confirmed on Wednesday 6,435 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total number in the country to 2,406,216, while the death toll from the virus rose by 159 to 24,487, and the total recoveries climbed to 2,283,919, Xinhua reported.

Turkey's Health Minister Fahrettin Koca received the first dose of CoronaVac live on television on January 13, becoming the first person in Turkey to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Following Koca, Turkish President Recep Erdogan and Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay have also had the Chinese vaccines, local media reports said.

The fact that many senior officials and politicians in various countries have received Chinese vaccines is a demonstration of public trust in China's medical goods, Feng Duojia, president of the China Vaccine Industry Association, said in an exclusive interview with the Global Times on Wednesday. 

Chinese vaccines have gained high public trust, Feng noted.  

Turkey is not the only country that has confidence in China's vaccines. 

At least 20 countries have purchased COVID-19 vaccines developed by Chinese manufacturers including Sinovac, Sinopharm and Cansino.

So far, over 40 countries have asked to import Chinese vaccines. As the production capacity expands, China will be able to gradually offer more to countries in need, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a press conference.  

Chinese companies are also conducting joint vaccine R&D with partners in a dozen countries, including clinical trials and co-production. As a result of this cooperation, Chinese companies have offered vaccines to partner countries, according to Hua.

Mutually beneficial cooperation of this kind has not only promoted vaccine R&D on the Chinese side, but also contributed to making the vaccines more affordable and accessible in developing countries, Hua said. 

The UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Indonesia and Brazil, among others, have authorized the use of Chinese COVID-19 vaccines, Hua noted. 

Despite the popularity of Chinese vaccines, doubts and smears in the Western media over the safety and efficacy of China's vaccines have never stopped, claiming they have not reached the efficacy of Pfizer and Moderna.

In response, Feng explained that the efficacy of various vaccines is not necessarily comparable due to the difference in clinical trial design, sites, population and statistical method. 

These vaccines' safety and efficacy are guaranteed as long as the clinical trial results are in accordance with the World Health Organization's guidance and basic standards as well as with national regulations, and have been strictly reviewed and evaluated. There is no fundamental difference in the efficacy, Feng noted.